They say that hate is a virus. It can be indolent and go unnoticed for years, while causing irreparable damage on the inside. It can be aggressive and symptomatic and can spread rapidly from person to person, forcing us to isolate and fear one another. It can flare and mutate, and much like with the COVID-19 virus, we find ourselves asking whether it can truly be erradicated or whether it will be with us forever. For Asian Americans, this question has become ever-present. With an alarming rise in the rate of Asian men and women being harassed in public, assaulted on the street and even mass-murdered at work, there is little doubt that what we are seeing are the damaging consequences of this disease, the sequelae of hate.

If you turn on any television or open any news app on your phone, you cannot avoid drowning in images of hate crimes against Asians. We can silence our phones and change the channel, but little can erase the mental pictures of people who look like us being persecuted by our fellow citizens. It is a stark reminder that, no matter how assimilated we think we are, there are those who still consider us as outsiders. We find ourselves trapped in an America that embraces and capitalizes on aspects of our culture (sushi and dim sum, “Crazy Rich Asians,” and “Indian Match Maker”) but simultaneously promotes people who use a rhetoric of hate and blame into positions of leadership and power. This dichotomy leaves us wholly torn because, in our minds, we are as American as apple pie, and so what do we say to others when they yell at us to go back home?

Asian Americans are certainly not the first or only people to feel this kind of pain. As we cross the one-year anniversary of the public murder of George Floyd, the Black community continues to grieve and suffer, for even the most basic, bare-minimum belief that “Black Lives Matter” has become a contentious issue. Although George Floyd has now received some modicum of justice with the results of the Derek Chauvin trial, Black people continue to live in a reality in which their discrimination and abuse must be recorded on video before they are believed or supported. While the “otherness” of being Asian in this country is currently on display, we must recognize that Black Americans are also hurting, and they have not reaped the privileges of the “model minority” myth. This stereotype that Asians are all the same – reserved, smart, only focused on science and math – is a gross generalization of the diversity that we bring to this country and undermines the struggle that both Asians and other minorities face. There is no such thing as an ideal immigrant, and the Asian community must reject this belief and strive to become better allies to the Black community.

If we have learned anything from recent events, it is that there is power in being seen. While it is difficult and uncomfortable to watch what is happening to minorities in America, we cannot turn a blind eye to these moments. We need to take a hard look at ourselves, our values and the state of our country to recognize that we are standing on the precipice of change. We are living in a world where a video can spark a civil rights revolution and where the image of a Black and Asian woman being sworn in as vice president can inspire a generation of children. People are paying attention, and as Asian surgeons, we have the opportunity and platform to change the visual landscape of this country. The mission of organizations like SAAS to promote the professional development of Asian surgeons is now more important than ever. Despite the claim that Asians are overrepresented in medicine, we remain poorly represented in positions of leadership. By encouraging more young Asian doctors to pursue academic surgery, we can address this dearth of diversity and help to address the conscious and unconscious biases that still exist against us.

Hate may be a virus, but it is an illness that we can fight. We can believe in a world where we are seen for the quality of our character and not for the color of our skin or the shape of our eyes, but to get to this future, we must continue to vie for equal representation, not only for Asians, but also for all people of color. Only then can we hope to heal the scars of bigotry and create an America where no one is told to go back to their own country – an America that everyone can call home.


Story Author:

Lindsey Zhang MD
General Surgery Resident Physician
University of Chicago Medical Center

Archives

A Day in Ramadan as a Surgical Trainee

Dr. Hassan Mashbar, a trauma fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital, discusses his experience with Ramadan during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Q&A: Dr. George Yang

The Lotus Scroll interviews George Yang, MD, PhD, former president of the Society of Asian Academic Surgeons.

SAAS Foundation 2018-2019 Visiting Professorships

Congratulations to the 2018-2019 SAAS Foundation Visiting Professors! SAAS Foundation Visiting Professorships support travel to host institutions for junior faculty to give grand rounds and increase the national visibility of rising stars in academic surgery.

SAAS on Twitter!

This year, SAAS was active more than ever on Twitter! In addition to updates and announcements, more content was created for our followers to improve engagement, highlight issues and events important to our society and members, and promote the activities at SAAS.

SAAS Executive Council: Message on the Rise of Racism

First, as the current pandemic continues to affect our communities and families, we want to express our profound gratitude to our surgical colleagues and to all healthcare professionals who are the frontlines of caring for patients with the SARS-CoV2 virus/COVID-19.

Q&A: Dr. Kenric Murayama

The Lotus Scroll is honored to interview Kenric Murayama, MD, this year’s host of the SAAS Annual Meeting.

Resident’s Corner: Work in the Time of Coronavirus

Sterile technique has leaked into the public domain, marked not only by how expensive Purell has become or how frequently we are reminded to wash our hands, but also by the ways we have come to treat one another.

President’s Message: December 2019

SAAS President Dr. Tracy Wang discusses how far the Society has come and what’s in store for 2020 in her December 2019 President’s Message.

SAAS 2019 Meeting Recap

SAAS held its 2019 Annual Meeting at the Boston Medical Center, Sept. 26-27, with more than 148 scientific presentations and breakout sessions.

SAAS 2019 Meeting Highlights

The fourth annual meeting of the Society of Asian Academic Surgeons will be held in Boston, Massachusetts, Sept. 26-27, 2019, and promises to be an incredibly fun, impactful and meaningful gathering of academic surgeons, trainees and students from both the U.S. and abroad.

Q&A: Dr. Jennifer Tseng

Jennifer Tseng, MD, MPH, is the James Utley Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery at Boston University School of Medicine and surgeon-in-chief at Boston Medical Center.

Welcome to the Lotus Scroll

Welcome to the launch of Lotus Scroll, the official newsletter of the Society of Asian Academic Surgeons (SAAS). Through the Lotus Scroll, we are excited to distribute and enhance the vision of SAAS: to promote diversity and inclusion in academic surgery through the sponsorship and development of its leaders.